27th September 2018, The Foundation of the Solidarity Campaign #FreeMaxZirngast

Upon invitation of the left re:volt Magazine, the founding meeting of the solidarity campaign #FreeMaxZirngast took place last night in the “Semperdepot” of the Academy of Fine Arts. The meeting brought together amongst many of Max’ friends and fellow students, also former parliamentary representative of the Austrian Green Party, Berîvan Aslan, Prof. Karl Reitter, the political scientist Thomas Schmidinger as well as members of Reporters Without Borders Austria (ROG Österreich), of the Austrian Students’ Union (ÖH), the Socialist Youth (SJ), members of Avesta – the Free Women’s Asscociation of Kurdistan, of HDP Europe, the Worker’s Party (PdA), the KOMintern Union’s Initiative, members of the news agency ETHA, the Federation of democratic Rights in Austria (ADHF), members of Asyl in Not and feminist as well as anti-racist activists.

Joan Adalaer, an editor of re:volt Magazine introduced the meeting with describing the active solidarity work that is directed at Max Zirngast since two weeks, which is also accompanied by a steady documentation and publication of the process. She highlighted, that the purpose of the solidarity campaign was to create enough public awareness and thus to pressure the responsible authorities, to achieve the release of Max Zirngast – who is detained unlawfully on sheer political grounds. Furthermore, she elaborated, how it is just as important not to leave Max alone in prison, to send him thoughts, letters and messages of solidarity. She added to also not leave the directly connected ones alone, who are struggling with pain and anger at this very moment, while pushing through to work for Max’ soon release. Any support is needed, and solidarity work can focus on those fields that Max Zirngast himself was active in: as a journalist and author, as a researcher and as a political activist.

Another editor of re:volt, Alp Kayserilioğlu, presented a short update on the development of the “case” Max Zirngast. Based on interrogation protocols of the prosecutor and the custodial judge, on information from lawyers, other local resources and on reports of news agencies, the accusations against Max are “preposterous” and lack any evidence. He noted that the internment was a political operation that serves the criminalization of legal and legitimate socialist reason and action. That’s no news, unfortunately. It is part of an ongoing process of fascization in Turkey, that targets not only Leftists and Socialists by criminalization and repression, but punishes potentially anyone. Max Zirngast wouldn’t be the only Austrian citizen in the Turkish prison system. And beyond that, thousands of other oppositional voices are being silenced in the cells of long term confinement.
Former Green Party member of the Austrian parliament, Berîvan Aslan, indicated in the meanwhile that it might be no coincidence that there are many Austrian citizens imprisoned in Turkey these days, and that many of them are being deported. She went on specifying that Austria’s political attitude towards Turkey would be much harder, than for example Germany’s – and therefore Austria may have become of special interest. This context should be considered regarding the arrest of Max Zirngast. Political scientist Thomas Schmidinger shared this perspective.
At the end of the meeting the participants discussed various forms of political action that could take place like rallies, postbox correspondences, distribution of solidarity messages via pictures, videos and texts on Social Media. Eventually, the participants of the founding meeting formed a coordination committee and declared that more information and further suggestions of action are up for dissemination via Facebook, Twitter and the website of the campaign soon.

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